Team Outreach provides support and encouragement to Tulalip youth

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

The transition from adolescence into adulthood is no easy feat. The teenage years are filled with triumphs and numerous setbacks. In many Native communities, kids are exposed to much more pain growing up, witnessing their loved one’s attempt to fight through adversity and find ways to cope with the years of generational trauma that is embedded in our DNA. Sometimes we find healthy outlets to work through that trauma and other times we look for ways to escape it. In addition to finding their personal identity, studying, participating in social activities and preparing for college, Native youth face many similar challenges as the average teen, but arguably at a higher extent, such as depression, violence at school or at home, the pressure to abuse drugs as well as the loss of friends or family to suicide. 

Teens often need an extra bit of encouragement to help them through their periods of struggle. Many kids look to confide in somebody outside of their families, who can listen, relate and provide a positive perspective to help them keep pushing forward. Tulalip Outreach workers, Dakota (Cody) Monger and Cassandra Jimicum, are providing exactly that for several local youth of the community. 

The Family Haven program, Team Outreach, is designed to provide support to Tulalip youth, helping them accomplish their goals and get things back on track. Cody works with the young men of Tulalip between the ages of thirteen and twenty-two, while Cassandra works with the young ladies between fourteen and twenty-two. The teens learn how to set, prioritize and accomplish both short and long term goals while also receiving assistance with recovery, physical and mental health, legal issues, obtaining a driver’s license, money management and resumes. The program assists high school students get re-enrolled if they dropped out of school and also helps those who wish to transfer schools within the Marysville School District. 

“We will help them with everything and anything really,” says Cody “It’s like a role model program or a mentorship. Everything you can think of that our youth needs, we cover it like self-esteem, or if they’re suicidal and too scared to talk with somebody about it. It’s hard to pinpoint a specific area we work on, but we work at their pace. The biggest thing is we want to earn their trust and just be real with them, like call their bluff out or if they’re doing something wrong, tell it to them like a friend would, like dude you’re messing up.”

“They set their own goals and we go at their pace,” adds Cassandra. “I just started in February and I’ve already helped my girls with TANF, I awarded a few shoe vouchers, I got one of my girls into Drivers Ed, I got two girls enrolled back in school and helped a girl get into counseling. We have a referral process and when we get referrals, we go out and just talk with them. They tell us everything they want to accomplish and then we narrow it down to two goals and then we work on those goals and once those are completed, we work on two more.”

Both Cody and Cassandra have seen a number of success stories from the youth who participate in their groups. They explained that they proudly watched several individuals overcome personal obstacles and achieve huge feats, rising to the challenge one issue at a time and getting things done. 

“I had a young man who posted every day that he didn’t want to be here,” Cody states. “It took about six to eight months pinpointing where the issue stemmed from. We had to break everything down, just so he could be happy again. Now the only thing he posts are messages saying ‘I’m doing fantastic, I’m going to school today or I love being a stepdad.’ He went from a deep, deep depression to being happy and thankful every day. He’s holding down a job, getting his GED, he became a stepfather and recently he’s started traveling more.  

“Another one of my guys got in a fight with a family member and literally barricaded himself in his room for months on end and had no communication with anybody, not even his mom. Now he’s into classical music, he’s holding B’s and A’s in school and is going to be doing a few concerts in the summer.”

The Outreach workers meet one-on-one with their teens on a weekly-basis, allowing them the chance to vent about any current difficulties they are experiencing as well as celebrate any new victories. Cody and Cassandra make the experience as smooth as possible for their clients by meeting them where they’re most comfortable, whether that’s at the Family Haven office, home, school, a coffee shop or a restaurant. 

Since Cody’s program has been established for a few years, many members of his group are well-acquainted with each other and have created a strong support system within the group. Cody also holds a study day on Wednesdays as well as an end-of-the week gathering, where those who wish to participate can meet up to talk about the week or participate in a physical activity together, like weight training or a pick-up game of basketball at the Marysville YMCA. As Cassandra’s program continues to gain momentum and additional participants, she also wishes to hold group gatherings throughout the week to enhance life skills with cooking and exercising classes as well as fun art and craft activities. 

Currently Cassandra is guiding six young ladies through the program and Cody is serving twelve young gentlemen on a consistent basis. They want to extend a friendly welcome out to other young adults in the area who can benefit from this program, as well as to those parents and teachers who may have someone in mind that could use a helping hand, and some encouragement to reach their full potential and beyond.

 “It’s important for our kids to know that there is somebody out there willing to go above and beyond for them, to help them through their darkest times,” expresses Cody. “I know sometimes it’s hard to reach out to ask for that peer support, or help in general. It’s a good feeling for them, knowing that there are people who are genuinely looking out for what’s best for them and their future.”

Nodding her head in agreement, Cassandra adds, “I feel the same way. It’s important that people know we are here to help our kids get back in school and that we are here to assist in any way we can to make sure they are successful in life.”

For more information about the Team Outreach program, please contact Family Haven at (360) 716-3284.

Nutrition and safety emphasized at TELA mini health fair

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

As parents picked up their kids from the Betty J. Taylor Early Learning Academy (TELA) on the afternoon of Friday March 22, they were welcomed by the TELA administration staff as well as local programs and businesses who were stationed throughout the lobby and the conference room of the early learning academy. Twenty-six informational booths provided useful tips, ranging from nutrition to safety, in an effort to promote better overall health and wellness within the community. Parents hurried to retrieve their kids from their classrooms so they could return and participate in TELA’s seventh annual Mini Health Fair.

A popular event that has continued to grow over the years, the mini health fair is a fun experience for TELA students. Each booth offers hands-on interaction from the likes of the Tulalip Police and Tulalip Bay Fire departments, as well as plenty of prizes like books, toys and even animal washcloths that promote the practice of healthy habits such as reading and good hygiene.

Perhaps the biggest highlight for the kids is sampling all the snacks. AnneCherise Jensen and the SNAP-Ed team created fruit kabobs with orange slices, pineapple, grapes, kiwi and strawberries, showing the families a new, fast and easy snack that is both delicious and nutritious. The fruit kabobs were such a smash that the SNAP-Ed booth had a line nearly the entire duration of the health fair. The TELA kitchen crew also handed out healthy snacks to the students including fruit and veggie cups as well as smoothies. 

Upon checking into the mini health fair, the families received a passport. As they visited each booth, the vendors signed their passports, indicating that the families learned either a new health tip or were provided with new resources from programs such as WIC, Healthy Homes and the Snohomish County Music Project. Once their passports were filled out, the families turned them in for a chance to win a variety of prizes including gift baskets, blankets and an inflatable swimming pool – just in time for the upcoming summer season.

“We like to partner with Children’s Hospital, Red Cross, WIC, the Child Strive program and the police and fire departments as well as Disaster [Tulalip Office of Emergency Management] for those families that are in need of extra services,” explains Katrina Lane, TELA Family and Community Engagement Coordinator. “It’s been a good event to provide for the families over the years. It’s really heartwarming to see the families here with their kids, and for the kids to actually be excited about healthy things; the smoothies, the veggies, the fruit kabobs – they are just excited. It’s a good feeling to know that we’re starting them out young and that they’re getting a good idea of what health is.”

By creating a fun learning experience catered to our future leaders, the academy puts an exciting and entertaining twist on educating the community about the many benefits and the importance of good physical, mental and spiritual health.

Health Service Division Highlights: Health Advisory Committee

Submitted by Francesca Hillery

Last June the Board of Directors created a Health Advisory Committee to provide oversight on the policies, procedures and programs administered by the Karen I. Fryberg Health Clinic. The committee members must be Tulalip tribal members and are appointed by the Board of Directors.

“The vision was to appoint two tribal members with substantial experience in the healthcare field, and two other members currently working within our healthcare system,” said Teri Gobin, who chaired the Services Committee this past year.

They are Karen Fryberg, Johanna Moses, Verna Hill, and Jennie Fryberg who all work in close coordination with Norma Razote, Managing Director of Health Services. The committee meets once a month.

Over a long career with the tribe Norma Razote recently assumed the position of Managing Director over Health Services, one of four new divisions of tribal government, following a reorganization of tribal government in 2018. One of the drivers for the restructure was to improve services to membership.

Norma sees the creation of the Health Advisory Committee as fundamental to improving health services for membership. The integration of services under the umbrella of the Health Services division is helping to improve the delivery of healthcare at the Tulalip clinic.

“One of the goals the tribe has been working towards is providing wrap-around services,” said Norma. “These things take time to build but the vision is to have case workers from various programs and providers all working on the caseload of particular clients in order to improve outcomes.”

This is especially needed in the area of chemical dependency where clients can have several intersecting issues that need close and consistent coordination. “Clients may have physical and mental health concerns, housing, and court requirements,” said Norma.  “We can work together as a team to ensure nothing is slipping through the cracks.”

The clinic recently created Patient Services, a new department that includes a caregiver coordinator, retirement home administrator, special needs and elder disability, transportation, and the hospital liaison. “The fact that the hospital liaison can do outreach with tribal members and their providers at the hospital, and then communicate their needs to our team, means we have the opportunity to provide better aftercare services,” said Norma.

Another policy change addresses the wage scale of medical professionals.  “One of the most important improvements we can make to health delivery is to attract and retain medical professionals. Currently, we do not pay our providers on a competitive scale,” said Norma.

Developing a relationship with providers that is based on consistency over time improves health outcomes.

Of the many areas of government Norma has served in over the years, she remarks on how far the clinic has come from its humble beginnings. “When I started working for them they were working in a little modular,” she laughed. “We now have a truly great facility that delivers a wide array of health services to our people,” she concluded.

When retired Health Care Administrator Karen Fryberg began working at the clinic the tribe offered few services. She recalls a time when healthcare was only available off the reservation and specialty care meant a trip to Seattle to the public health hospital.

Leveraging monies through the Indian Self-Determination and Education Act, Tulalip launched its first health clinic in a tiny building and trailer across from the old Administration building.

The first clinic had two exam rooms, a small lab and a temporary nurse practitioner who was there to pay off her government-funded student debt. A second nurse practitioner was added to expand maternal and prenatal care for members.

As demand for services grew, the clinic expanded with the purchase of a surplus mobile building from the Everett Clinic which allowed for the addition of a doctor and nurse as well as expanded exam and waiting space.

An analysis of prescription drug costs in town quickly made the case for a tribal-managed on-site pharmacy. Substantial savings on prescription drug costs helped purchase much needed equipment and resources for the clinic.

When the decision was made to borrow money to build the Tulalip Resort Casino, tribal leaders agreed to include additional funds for a new healthcare facility to better serve tribal membership and the dream of a comprehensive clinic began to take shape.

Opened in August of 2003, the new building would carry the name: Karen I. Fryberg Tulalip Health Clinic.

A long term dream of Karen’s has been to achieve accreditation for the clinic.

While her retirement is filled with family time, sewing and craft fairs, Karen continues to worry about the health of her community, especially the young people struggling with drug addiction, the ongoing risk of overdose, and the crippling devastation caused by suicide.

Karen is a living record of the history of the tribe providing health services. Her perseverance has helped to make the Tulalip Health Clinic one of the most comprehensive among tribal clinics in the state of Washington.

When Johnna Moses was asked to join the Health Advisory Committee, she was hesitant.

The mother of six had retired after a thirty-four year career as a Licensed Practical Nurse, and had her hands full helping raise her grandchildren, along with her daughter Annie Moses, but she soon found herself appointed to the committee by the Board of Directors.

When it comes to understanding the complexities of the clinic and the policies related to the delivery of care, she admits she’s in the midst of a learning curve. But, her background as a licensed caregiver and her extraordinary compassion for others makes her a perfect advocate for patients and their families.

She believes in the clinic’s holistic approach to integrated care and is optimistic that the clinic is moving in the right direction.

Johanna spent ten years at the old Everett General Hospital and 24 years at the Providence campus on Pacific Avenue in Everett bringing a slow and tender touch to the work she loved. She really enjoyed the spiritual elements of the Providence hospital environment.

She sees several challenges including the need for quality patient transportation, home checks, and a better understanding of how the insurance process works. Johnna cares about everyone, and jokingly says she sometimes prays to care less.

Verna Hill has been in training for her current seat on the Health Advisory Committee since childhood.

From a very young age, she was exposed to this field of work. Growing up, her grandmother was a social worker within the Tulalip community — working with a range of members from young children through patients in hospice. Her mother served as Director of Family Services.

Verna worked at the high school for ten years when the first casino came into operation. With parents working odd hours, older children were often left to care for their younger siblings, needing assistance and support to navigate their new roles, especially when it came to understanding the complexity of the healthcare system.

She left the high school and moved to health clinic for twelve years, starting out in the diabetes program and moving to a role in patient care coordination.

Next came three years working at beda?chelh before her return to the clinic.

Verna is thankful to be appointed to this committee, “as our tribe is growing leaps and bounds.” She sees her role as building bridges between healthcare providers and their patients. “We need to support the staff. This partnership is important,” she said.

She firmly believes that patients are ninety percent responsible for their own care and her role serves as an educational component to help doctors communicate in terms that their patients can understand.

She wants members to realize that the healthcare clinic is a great place. “We need to believe in our doctors,” she said. “Our people need to know that they can get quality care right here.” Although Verna has great insurance, and could go anywhere, she has always received care here at Tulalip.

Early on the revolving door of practitioners led to patient distrust, and created an attitude that tribal health is somehow inferior, Verna works to change perceptions and help turn that energy around. “It’s everyone’s job to help spread the word,” she said.

Verna spent nearly nine years as a board member of the Providence Hospital and it helped to inform her understanding of health care delivery in a large institution, and also how many issues, regarding tribal patients and families, they simply did not understand.

“It’s about communication on both sides,’ she said. “We can’t stop talking to each other, the partnership is too important.”

Advocating for the healthcare needs of her community is much more than Jennie Fryberg’s job description, it is in her DNA.  She brings a love for her community and compassion to the work she performs everyday in a beautiful building that carries her mother’s name.

As the Clinic Records Director, Jennie has served in a variety of roles at the clinic for the past twenty-one years including reception, front desk supervisor and Health Information Manager. She has worked under thirteen different administrators during her tenure.

In 2017 she assumed oversight for Patient In-Take, the Child, Youth, and Family Wellness Office, the Tulalip Family Service Office, Special Programs, Referral Specialists, Outreach Worker, and Medical Records.

The clinic is introducing the concept of wrap-around care utilizing the Medicine Wheel approach to encompass the four aspects of native health: body, mind, spirit and emotion.

In this model, each patient will have a single primary care doctor to help establish a continuity of care. This means that they will see the same provider each time whenever possible.

“We are taking care of you as a whole person,” she said. “If your continuity provider will know you as a person, you will have a more trusting relationship, and will find it easier to express your needs and preferences in health care.”

An added benefit to this model is a reduction in the wait time for the acute walk-in department which is now staffed with two doctors.

“We are working to align standard operating procedures and policies to best serve our members,” said Jennie. “The Board of Directors has asked leadership to focus on the Contract Health Services policy, and they are working to integrate the recommendations made by the Services Committee and the Health Advisory Committee,” she said.

“Recruitment is a huge challenge right now as the clinic continues to seek experienced providers who can help us build trust with our patients,” said Jennie. Fighting the perception that nurse practitioners are somehow less capable than doctors, she says, is especially challenging. “They are educated and trained to provide a high level of care,” said Jennie. “Patients do not realize it takes six to eight years of post secondary education to become a nurse practitioner.”

The entire medical team is under the direction of Senior Medical Office Dr. Cleven who works closely with his staff and is available for consultation whenever necessary.

Working in an environment filled with high priorities, Jennie feels the pressing need to rebuild a strong crisis team to quickly offer wrap-around care, understanding and support to vulnerable members and their families the moment they reach out for help.

“Given the complex nature of healthcare ranging from eligibility and prevention to chronic disease and claims management, the need for education, health fairs and clear communication becomes essential,” she continued, “patients need to understand both their rights and their responsibilities.”

Jennie sums up her role at the clinic, “I am here trying to keep my mom’s dream alive. Her name is on this health clinic, and all I am doing is trying to keep the dream alive, which is to take care of our people, to make sure prevention gets out there to the people.”

April is Child Abuse Prevention and Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Submitted by Sydney Gilbert

Here is how you can get involved with the effort to end child abuse and sexual assault: 

iEmpathize 

iEmpathize is a training centered on the topic of human trafficking and is for kids 12 and up. This training teaches youth how to recognize negative pulls and pushes as well as positive pulls in their lives. It also teaches youth who is safe and who is wearing a mask. This training is 1 hour long over a 4 day period and will be held at Youth Services from 10:00-11:00am April 2nd-5th. The training is free and food will be provided. For more information contact Megan Boyer at mboyer@tulaliptribes-nsn.gov

Stewards of Children training 

During our award-winning Stewards of Children® prevention training, you’ll meet survivors who lived through child sexual abuse, experienced its immediate and long-term effects, and ultimately were able to find healing. You’ll meet experts who work with children and families and confront abuse on a daily basis. Lastly, you’ll find concrete steps that you can take to protect the children in your life. This Free training will be offered Monday April 8th and Thursday April 25th at the administration building, room 162 from 5:00-7:00pm, Food provided. For questions or to reserve a spot contact Sydney Gilbert at sgilbert@tulaliptribes-nsn.gov 

Women’s Self Defense Class 

Come learn how to keep yourself safe through detection and deterrence of danger, how to defuse and de-escalate danger, and how to physically defend yourself in an encounter. The class is taught through presentations, discussions, real world situations and their outcomes, role playing scenarios, and physical confrontations with the staff in protective suits. Topics are serious so all participants must be 14 or older. Wear comfortable active clothing. Clothing may become stretched or damaged. This training is Free and will be held on Saturday, April 27th in Administration room 162 from 10:45am-3:15pm. Lunch provided. Class size limited to 16 people. Contact Elizabeth Plowman at Eplowman@tulaliptribes-nsn.gov with questions and to sign up. 

Mandatory Reporter Training 

Learn about what it means to be a mandated reporter, and learn how to identify child abuse and neglect. This free training will be offered Tuesday April 9th and Wednesday April 24th from 10:00-11:30 in Administration room 162. 

Child Abuse Panel

Have you ever wondered why child abuse investigations take so long? Or why it seems like there are so many hoops to jump through? Every Monday during the month of April from 11:00-1:00 we will be hosting an informal panel made up of CPS investigators, law enforcement, Child Advocacy and Legacy of healing staff, and representatives of our legal team. Come meet our team and ask any question you may have about child abuse investigations. Monday April 1st-beda?chelh conference room 

Monday April 8th-TELA, Monday April 15th-Administration building room 264, Monday-Tribal Court room 3

beda?chelh extends support and resources to local families

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

Parenting is an on-going learning experience. In your relationship with your child there are many dynamics that are constantly changing as you each grow. And although your kids provide you with a lifetime of cherished memories, there are also trying times and intense moments where kids will naturally rebel and forgo your instruction and advice. In extreme matters, parents may feel like they are losing control and as misbehavior continues, they may feel fed up and not know where to turn for help. 

Did you know that there are a handful of Children’s Administration evidence-based programs available to parents and caretakers of the community by referral through beda?chelh? By requesting assistance from a beda?chelh social worker, Tulalip families can participate in programs that address their specific needs and are geared toward improving and restoring family relationships. There are seven programs in total that range in public classroom-style settings to private in-home sessions; and each program specializes in certain age groups, varying from birth to eighteen.  

Tulalip tribal member and Child Advocacy Center (CAC) Manager Jade Carela is currently working on attaining her master’s degree. In doing so, Jade has taken up a 12-hour a week internship with beda?chelh, on top of her very busy schedule. She explained that as a part of her training, she wants to educate the community about these resources and inform local parents about how beda?chelh can assist their family without removing the child from the home. 

“You can call beda?chelh and talk to a social worker like, hey I’m having these issues, what programs can I benefit from?,” she explains. “beda?chelh would have to make a referral for the family to these services. If you have an open case or a referral comes in about you, and beda?chelh goes out to talk to you, then they can refer you to these services without opening a dependency on your child. The CPS workers would set-up a safety plan with you so they can keep in contact to make sure that program’s working for you.

“Another way is parents can actually call the CPS intake line, which is 1(866) END-HARM, and request services for their family. The state will then open a family volunteer service case (FVS), but it’s just to monitor and assist the family while they’re choosing which program would be best for them to utilize.”

For years, beda?chelh social workers have dedicated their careers to ensuring Tulalip children are safe, first and foremost, and continue living within their families and community, which allows the kids to engage in their culture and learn about their heritage if removed from their homes. The tribal-based child protective services program has seen a number of reunifications over the years, guiding parents in the right direction who are actively pursuing custody of their children. beda?chelh is involved with both the child and parent from the moment a concern is reported, throughout the placement process as well as post-reunification. When a parent reaches out to beda?chelh for additional support, the social workers will not only refer them to the appropriate program, they will also attend all of the sessions to observe and help moderate.  

After a family is reunified, they may experience difficulties getting reacclimated and conflict may arise. At this point in time, a social worker can discuss the issues happening in the home with the family and refer them to one of the evidence-based programs.

A brief summary of each of the seven programs are listed as follows; Positive Parenting Program (Triple P) an in-home 10 to 14-week program for children ages 2 to 16 years old that focuses on increasing safety, improving the parent’s ability to deal with the child’s behavior in different situations and decrease emotional and developmental problems in the child’s behavior; Project Safe Care, for ages birth to 5, is an in-home service for 18 to 22 weekly visits. The program aims to increase home safety and child supervision, improve parent and child relationships and learn the appropriate use of regular and emergency care; 

The Incredible Years (IY) which offers three classes – baby class (birth to 8 months), toddler class (9 months to 2 years old) and preschool class (2 to 8 years old). Expected outcomes from IY include the child understanding their feelings, improving problem solving and coping skills and also decreasing the amount hitting and yelling at home or at school; Parent-Child Interactive Therapy (PCIT) is intended for ages 2 to 7 where therapists will place an earpiece in the parent’s ear and coach them through an interaction with their child behind a one-way mirror; 

Family Functional Therapy (FFT) is for the older kids between 11 and 18 and is in-home for 10 to 15 weekly sessions. This program discusses appropriate discipline, increasing communication between the family, reducing teen substance abuse and stabilizing youth’s behavior and academics at school; Promoting First Relationships (PFR) is a 10 to 14-week program that is in-home where therapists teach new parenting skills through live coaching; and Intensive Family Preservation Services (Homebuilders) specializes in birth to 18. This 4 to 6-week intensive intervention program requires face-to-face family time and is focused on connecting families with natural support within their community while also teaching crisis intervention, life skills and cognitive-behavioral therapy. 

“I just don’t think the community knows that these different services can be offered to people and families,” says Jade. “I think that it’s so important to let the community know that beda?chelh is not just here as social workers, but they can actually refer you out to these different services that you can utilize through different parts of your life with your family. Or if you’re a parent who has a troubled teen, it’s not that you want CPS or beda?chelh to come get your kid, but you need some help, some structure, some skills and they can refer you to a program that can come into your home and work with you and your kiddo.”

For additional details, please contact beda?chelh at (360) 716-3284.

Finding Your Way with Diabetes

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

On the evening of March 7, the Tulalip Diabetes Care and Prevention program hosted their first Finding Your Way with Diabetes gathering of the year in the newly constructed conference room at the Karen I. Fryberg Health Clinic. After great success last summer, the interactive course was brought back to help local diabetics get a better understanding of how to manage their diabetes.

Finding Your Way with Diabetes is led by Diabetes Educators, Miguel Arteaga (RN) and Natasha LeVee (PharmD) who guide the participants through an hour and a half long class that includes games, snacks and plenty of laughter. Participants are encouraged to share their stories with their fellow diabetics to give insight into the disease and how it can affect others in both similar and different ways. 

The latest report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that Native Americans are still at great risk and twice as likely to be diagnosed with diabetes, but because of programs like Diabetes Care and Prevention, Indigenous Peoples living with diabetes are learning how to responsibly manage their blood glucose levels, eat healthy nutritious foods, and participate in physical activity as well as gain more general knowledge about diabetes. 

“The inspiration behind the class is we we’re trying to figure out a way to provide something for [diabetics] that was kind of like the Wisdom Warriors,” says Miguel. “The Wisdom Warriors is a self-help group where people learn skills and get together like a family, have a meal and share with one another. We wanted somethingthat lets us facilitate discussion between all the people, where they’re all learning from one another and they see that they’re not by themselves. They end up teaching each other, and we just provide some friendly expertise along the way.”

At the start of each class, Miguel and Natasha ask the participants if there are any topics they would like to discuss, compiling a list of subjects to touch upon as the class progresses. The students then use a road map, which looks like a giant board game, for the remainder of the class. The road map provides several games like ‘Fact or Myth’ as well as a variety of discussion topics allowing the participants to engage in healthy conversation regarding nutrition, insulin, medication, types of diabetes as well as their daily successes and struggles as they work their way through the map. 

“The reason why this is in a real colorful format is to give people some talking points,” Miguel explains. “We’re talking about living your life better and we treat it like a road map. That’s why it has the road and multiple stops where we talk about certain topics, later on when we get into nutrition, we’ll talk about places where you can eat, getting fast food and where to find more nutritious foods. We talk about things that happen in real life and the decision process of how to keep ourselves safe. We’re trying to get good information out to people so they’re more empowered and they can make better decisions about how they’re going to live their lives.”

The Finding Your Way with Diabetes class provides an opportunity for local diabetics and their families to find a sense of community. The first class was an intimate gathering where three individuals became acquainted and shared their personal journey. Community member Jim Dunham and Tulalip tribal member Marvin Jones, who both have type 2 diabetes, welcomed newcomer Daniel Charlie to the group. Daniel shared his history, explaining how he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes a few short years ago. He nearly lost his life due to a rough bout of pancreatitis that put him into a hospital for ten months, in which he was in a coma for over four of those months. Jim and Marvin were both flabbergasted as he described his story. They commended him for fighting for his life and also encouraged him to keep pushing forward, advising him to take it one day at time while also extending their support as he continues living with diabetes. By the end of the class Daniel was embraced with hugs and personal discussion from both the participants and the instructors.

“That’s what it’s all about,” Miguel states. “To provide something that’s more like a self-help group than just telling them information and giving them papers, saying here read this. We want to let people know that they’re welcome, that they have something to share. This is not something that anybody needs to feel bad about, ashamed or guilty about. It’s something that happens and there are certain ways we need to act or skills we need to develop to take care of it. I hope people will read this article and want to be a part of this or if they know someone with diabetes and want to learn more about it, to get their family member here so we can help them have a better life.”

Finding Your Way with Diabetes is hosted at the Karen I. Fryberg Health Clinic every Thursday in March from 4:30 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. The Diabetes Care and Prevention program has an eventful year planned for the community, including several garden days at the clinic and cooking classes with Britt Reed, as well as a new class, Seven Skills to Live with Diabetes, where they will go into further detail about diabetes management. 

If you or a loved one is living with diabetes, Miguel and Natasha encourage you to drop by the Diabetes Care and Prevention program at the clinic so they can answer any questions, provide you with resources and set you up with a personalized plan to help manage your diabetes. For further information, please contact the Diabetes program at (360) 716-5642.

Our Healing Journey

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

“Who is a problem gambler?” asked Tulalip Problem Gambling Coordinator, Sarah Sense-Wilson. “A problem gambler is anyone whose gambling is causing psychological, financial, emotional, spiritual, relational, legal or other difficulties for themselves and others around them, including family and community.

“Here’s a little data for you,” she continued. “Up to 1-3% of Washingtonians struggle with problem gambling. To get some perspective on that, imagine the Seattle Seahawks stadium filled to capacity four times – that’s the amount of problem gamblers in Washington state. Sadly, only 1 in 10 seek professional help. 92% of problem gamblers experience suicidal ideation at some point in their gambling, up to 40% attempt suicide. That number is too high.” 

Many of us have shared a story about one of our gambling escapades with a close friend or family member. You know the one, it usually begins as a fun night out with good company at a casino and includes plenty of dancing, delicious delectabls and drinks. And if you’re feeling lucky, you might even hit the floor. Whether your poison is table games or the machines, the story can only have one of three outcomes; you win, lose or break even. At times we recall these stories as if they were tales of war, recapping each spin or hand dealt. However, it tends to end along the lines, ‘I was winning and then lost it all. Should’ve left while I was up’, or ‘I won! I got the bonus, five free spins and then hit a bunch wilds’. Because in the moment it’s all fun, it’s as if you become hypnotized by the music and obsessed with obtaining more credits.

For most, gambling is a fun social event. Many set a limit of how much money they will gamble before even stepping into a gaming establishment. That way if they lose, it’s already accounted for. While others can get caught up in the thrill of chasing jackpots, willing to risk it all in hopes of a big payout. Like most vices, gambling is addictive and provides a high. And if you’re a compulsive gambler, you lose the concept of time and reality, only to snap out of it when you’re forced to stop i.e., run out of cash or hit a jackpot. The odds are always against you, but even when you lose, you might feel compelled to ‘win it back’ and visit the nearest ATM.

At each ATM located within a Tulalip Gaming Establishment, a message is provided at the bottom of the screen throughout the entire transaction process. A message that unfortunately goes unread, or is ignored, quite too often. A message for compulsive gamblers from the Tulalip Tribes Problem Gambling program that states, ‘if you or a loved one suffer from a gambling addiction, please contact (360) 716-4440.’

Every March is National Problem Gambling Awareness Month, an initiative that launched fifteen years ago and was inspired largely in part by the mass amount of NCAA March Madness basketball bracket pools. In an effort to raise awareness and to provide support as well as education, the Tulalip Problem Gambling program actively participates in awareness month by hosting a number of events every third month of the year. 

On the evening of March 2, the Tulalip Problem Gambling program kicked off National Problem Gambling Awareness Month at the Hibulb Cultural Center during their 4th Annual Community Gathering night. 

The community gathering is a popular event that welcomes those who are recovering from their addiction, as well as their families. The theme for this year’s event was titled ‘Our Healing Journey’ and the Problem Gambling program offered good medicine throughout the night. The community filled the Hibulb Longhouse, enjoying an evening complete with dinner and entertainment. Master of Ceremony and Tulalip tribal member, Whaa-Ka-Dup Monger opened the event with a prayer before community member Terrance Sabbas led his family in a drum circle, offering a prayer song to the participants.

One of the highlights of the evening came right before dinner as two young Tulalip Youth Council members, Image Enick and Kaiser Moses, offered words of encouragement and a traditional Tulalip song for those healing from problem gambling.

“I’m speaking on behalf of the Youth Council and representing the youth,” said Kaiser. “I’d like to say that we’re all very proud of you for being here and taking a moving step forward. It’s very important. It touches all of our hearts that you care so much and that you’re able to recognize how this affects us. We’re happy and overjoyed to be here with you and we’re really proud and hopeful for your future.”

Tulalip Problem Gambling Coordinator, Sara Sense-Wilson, gives a hug to attendee Charlotte, for sharing her moving story about overcoming her gambling addiction.

Charlotte, who was celebrating three years and six months of her personal healing journey, openly shared her intimate story with the community. In 2015, she was caught embezzling from a non-profit, of which she was the treasurer, to fuel her gambling addiction. She eventually was admitted into a deferment program for her crimes and found herself at the Tulalip Problem Gambling program with Sarah who helped her through the recovery process. Sarah tasked Charlotte with creating a timeline of her gambling problem. When working on her timeline she learned that the addiction stemmed from a year of hardship, in which she lost family members due to cancer and alcoholism, along with a traumatizing event concerning her child. 

“You’ve done everything you can, you’re trying to keep yourself together but your family’s falling apart, your kids are falling apart. So what did I do? I gambled,” admitted Charlotte. “Because at that casino, I checked out. I did not feel; I did not think. I checked out emotionally, physically, mentally. It’s very easy to hide. I’d get up and go to work every day and come home and play mommy, but at nine o’clock every night I was leaving. My excuse was always, I’m just so stressed out and I need to get away.”

Charlotte explained that she made recovery a priority and began learning about her addiction; why she gambled, how it was affecting her and why she was covering it up. Therefore, she learned how to deal with her feelings and work through her adversity. 

“I started learning I could live and not gamble. Wow, I just said that. I can live and not gamble – amazing! I found people who understand my gambling, people I can talk to about it. I’m not hiding it anymore. That’s my recovery. Today, I’m healing.”

The community gathering concluded with a performance by Native comedian Vaughn Eagle Bear whose claim to fame was the song John Wayne’s Teeth which was featured in the Native cult classic, Smoke Signals. After participants finished drying their eyes following Charlotte’s moving testimony, Vaughn made the crowd cry once more, but this time the tears were caused by his hilarious rez humor. 

“This evening we really wanted to highlight and celebrate that whole healing journey, it’s not just the individual or the family, it’s the community,” said Sarah. “This is a disease, it’s an addiction, it’s a problem. At Tulalip Tribes we recognize that and we provide a variety of services to support problem gamblers, their families and the community. Some of those services are family night where we provide education and support, we do individual counseling, referrals to in-patient or other treatment programs, we also do individual assessments. We are one of the most comprehensive tribal-run gambling programs in the entire state of Washington and we’re really proud of that. To me, that reflects the dedication and commitment of the tribe to promote health and wellness throughout both tribal and the local community. Our services are for non-natives too and the fact that Tulalip Tribes is so progressive in providing that support speaks to the value system and the overarching cultural beliefs.”

Problem Gambling will continue to host a number of events throughout National Problem Gambling Awareness month. If you or a loved one suffer from a gambling addiction, please contact the Tulalip Problem Gambling program at (360) 716-4440.